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Last month the draft Terms of Reference (dToR) for the UK’s Covid-19 public Inquiry were published. As noted in our previous blog, the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to serious violations of people’s economic, social, and cultural rights across all four jurisdictions of the United Kingdom.

We have now submitted our response to the dToR.  These were our key points:

1) We recommended that the Inquiry takes a human rights-based approach to its work to:

  • understand the impact of the pandemic on the population’s rights, including those disproportionately effected
  • ensure we learn lessons from the pandemic, and
  • increase the resilience of society to future threats and emergencies

2) We highlighted various limitations of the current Inquiry process, and called for a full public inquiry, rather than the limited vehicle that is currently being proposed.

3) We called for the final version of the Terms of Reference to lay out the following:

  1. The importance of participation, and the ways in which the Inquiry will ensure all groups, including those disproportionately impacted, have their voices heard.
  2. The ways in which the Inquiry will authentically engage traditionally ‘easy to ignore’ communities
  3. A requirement for the Inquiry to name who is accountable regarding the Inquiry’s work, what they are accountable for and what needs to be done for effective remedy and non-repetition.
  4. Confirm what the Inquiry can achieve and what other processes may be necessary to ensure access to justice and an effective remedy.
  5. That the Inquiry will assess decision-making by the UK and other public authorities in relation to its legal obligation to consider inequality and advancement of equality under the Equality Act 2010.
  6. That the Inquiry will examine and understand the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on those with protected characteristics, and particularly how this intersects with socio-economic status.
  7. That the Inquiry will take an approach that actively seeks to extinguish discrimination at all stages.
  8. That the Inquiry will adopt processes and safeguards that may be necessary to ensure it discharges its duty of care and strives to cause no further harm than disproportionately impacted people have already experienced.
  9. That the Inquiry will work in line with and comply with the Human Rights Act 1998.
  10. That the Inquiry will work in line with and comply with the international framework of rights which the UK has signed and ratified, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the rights protected within these.

Keep up to date with our work on the Inquiry